Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Sunday, May 17, 2020

What is Sufism (Tasawwuf)?- Shaykh Muhammad Masum Naqshbandi RA

Shaikh Muḥammad Ma‘sūm Naqshbandī (ra)
In the name of Allāh, most Gracious, most Merciful.

All praises belong to Allāh. Peace and blessings be upon the blessed Prophet Muḥammad, the illuminating light, and Allāh’s mercy to humankind and all of Allāh’s creation.

Praise to Allāh that there are increasingly more people seeking a sacred and holistic way of life. In a world dominated by materialistic values, taṣawwuf balances one’s spiritual life and worldly activities.

 Taṣawwuf is based on the unity of Allāh (tawḥīd). Those who practice taṣawwuf, sufis, are muslims who strive to purify their hearts and dominate their worldly desires by following the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet under the guidance of a spiritual leader. Taṣawwuf is to tread along the spiritual path by applying the ethical dictates of the shariah into one’s life. Spirituality is rooted in one’s moral behavior, which is best done under the guidance of a spiritual master familiar with the difficulties and dangers of the path. As individual souls find their spiritual journey deepening, they approach divine Reality  (ḥaqīqat) and reach the highest degree of spiritual excellence (iḥsān).

Although simple in concept, taṣawwuf proves to be challenging and difficult in practice. In our time, difficulty in finding qualified spiritual leaders and reliable sources of knowledge makes actualizing taṣawwuf difficult. As the level of difficulty increases along the path, the responsibility of each individual to the ethical dictates of the shariah rises proportionally. With this background in mind, one realizes that the purpose of creation is to serve Allāh, as it is said in the Holy Qur’ān, I have created jinns and humankind that they may serve me (Q. 51:56). Our deeds and all other aspects of our being is directed to fulfill this purpose. The first obstacle to overcome on the path is the “commanding ego” (al-nafs al-ammāra), which the Holy Prophet (PBUH) called the “greater struggle” (jihad al-akbar). Yet, I do not claim that my soul was innocent. Surely a person’s soul incites to evil -- except in so far as my Sustainer is all forgiving, most merciful (Q. 12:53).

The challenge to overcome one’s lower nature is not easy. However, one should never lose hope because the spiritual journey is blessed by Allāh’s mercy just as those who strive for Allāh’s cause will have Allāh’s mercy with them. We will surely guide those who struggle in Our cause to Our path; Allāh is with those who do good (Q. 29:69).

The shariah is the foundation of submitting to Allāh and the genuine Path to Allāh. Therefore, one is cautioned to avoid deviating from the ethical commands stemming from the Qur’ān and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Deviating from the shariah, whether individually or under the auspices of a sufi lineage, would go against the dictates of submitting to Allāh, which is the practice of islām.

In this path one needs a pure heart, since it is the pure heart that can reflect the light of the divine. That is why the purification of the heart plays a central role in an individual’s spiritual journey. As the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, there is a polish for everything that takes away the rust and the polish of the heart is dhikr, i.e., the invocation of Allāh. Truly the person who succeeds purifies it (the heart) and the person who fails corrupts it (the heart) (Q.91:9-10). …and call Allāh in remembrance often so that you may prosper
(Q. 8:45).

Let us remember that guidance is only by Allāh. …For Allāh guides whom Allāh wills to a path that is straight (Q. 2:213). Allāh promised the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that his religion and book would be protected until the Day of Judgment. And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allāh (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allāh’s favor on you. You were enemies and Allāh joined your hearts in love, so that by Allāh’s grace, you became brothers. You
were on the brink of the pit of fire and Allāh saved you from it. Thus Allāh makes Allāh’s signs clear to you so that you are guided (Q. 3:103). May Allāh bless us with hearts that can pray with sincerity and reflect the divine light. May we have eyes whose gaze on this world will remind us of Allāh. I pray to Allāh to bless us with the ability to practice with excellence, the teachings of Islam in our daily life.

والسلام و عليكم ورحمة الله و على من اتبع الحق و الهدی و صلی الله علی سیدنا و نبینا محمد و علی اله الطاهرین المعصومین

Shaikh Muḥammad Ma‘sụm Naqshbandī (ra)
Religious Adviser and Spiritual Guide
Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education


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